So our 2017 summer has begun with a 9-night adventure to North Devon, beginning in the village of Braunton which is situated at the centre of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, about 5 miles outside the main town of Barnstaple. It’s the most populated village in Devon, and did actually feel a little more towny than a village with no shortage of varied eating places, drinking holes and shops – if you’re a surfer this definitely seems to be the place to go (we’re not by the way!).
We stayed for 3 nights at Lobb Fields Camping & Caravan Park, chosen due to its location between Braunton village and Saunton Sands. This allowed us to explore the local area well on bike.
This site’s spread across 2 fields comprising 180 pitches, 107 of them have EHU and 10 are hardstanding. Many are sloping. There are also some seasonal pitches. There are 2 chemical disposal points and 2 re-cycling areas and facilities were good.
Both fields are open and exposed, giving it a very spacious feel. The night before we arrived the site had been battered with strong winds and our neighbour beside us had had his awning destroyed 😮 It remained quite windy there during our stay, but then it is on the coast of the Atlantic, so …
During our stay here we ate in the village at:-
– a friendly, family owned place serving great food. A cafe by day and contemporary restaurant by night. We enjoyed excellent seafood dishes including sea bass, pollock, and scallops.
– a long-standing fish n chip shop/restaurant recommended by Rick Stein. We both loved the fish curry here.
The day after arrival we set out on our bikes, cycling the couple of miles from site to the Northern end of Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows dune system – England’s largest sand dune system. There’s a car park, shop and cafe at this end. The weather began as overcast but soon enough some welcome sunshine broke through the fast moving clouds and stayed with us for the remainder of the day.
Saunton Sands is a stunning 3-mile crescent of sand and is dog friendly. Apparently, Robbie Williams filmed the video for his single ‘Angels’ on this beach. The wild Atlantic waves attract many surfers, windsurfers, and kite surfers and it’s great to just sit and watch from the beach.
We stayed a while just wandering along the beach before cycling (sometimes walking and pushing!) on from Saunton past the Saunton Sands Hotels where we took in more impressive views right out to sea on one side and back across the dunes and burrows on the other. From there we climbed up the hill and down into Croyde. Don’t forget to look back as you go up, some of the views are breathtaking. Be careful though because there’s a fair bit of traffic at times along this road.
When you reach the top of the hill and turn the bend you’re rewarded with magnificent views down towards Croyde Bay and the picturesque village of Croyde, with its numerous thatched cottages. It’s a pleasant downhill cycle here. We’d definitely recommend visiting Croyde if in the area.
We had a pitstop pint (or two 😉 ) at the characterful Thatch Inn and enjoyed some sunshine for an hour or so.
We then just HAD to call into Croyde’s Ice Cream Parlour further down the road. We wouldn’t necessarily have stopped for ice cream had there not been a sign on the shop stating “This is the famous shop that serves ice cream with clotted cream on top” … eek! well, we’re only human!
Later, from Croyde, we cycled through nearby Georgeham village as part of our 12-mile circular route back to site at the end of the day, stopping off at a gem of a pub:-
This place felt cosy and welcoming the minute we walked through the door and fortunately we decided to ask for a table just in time as it proved to be a popular choice. A big thumbs up for this place.
Another uphill and downhill cycle ride along quiet roads and lanes helped us burn off some calories and took us back to site just before sunset at the end of a very enjoyable first day in North Devon.
Cycling quiet lanes back to site at sunset
Map showing cycle route
Also during our stay we took the bus to the seaside resort of Woolacombe with its award-winning beach, lying between Morte Point and Baggy Point. You drop steeply down into Woolacombe which was once a small fishing hamlet before becoming popular as a seaside resort in the 19th century.
The bus runs regularly from outside the George Hotel in Braunton and passes through Morthoe, a village mentioned in the Domesday Book. It’s worth a saunter around this village too which has an interesting history, more recently in farming but further back in time it was a place used by smugglers and wreckers.
Although we cycled and made use of public transport to explore the local area, there are a variety of walks to be had around this part of North Devon.
There’s also a 6-mile stretch of the Tarka Trail passing between Braunton and Barnstaple, the largest town in North Devon, or parts of the South West Coast Path.
Well, part 1 of our 3-part North Devon adventure had come to a close and hadn’t disappointed. Our next stop was to be just a half hour drive north along the coast to Watermouth Cove Holiday Park, Berrynarbor, just outside Ilfracombe.
Suzie & Bri